This didgeridoo is not a gun, I’m not planting a bomb
A COMMUNITY educator has been left shaken and disappointed after being mistaken for a gunman when he arrived to do a presentation on cultural awareness at Buderim Community Kindergarten.
The first Jason Morris knew that he, his wife Topaz and their camouflage-painted tour bus "Da Beast" had been cause for alarm was when police told him to put his hands up.
Mr and Mr Morris had parked the bus at the Townsend Rd kindergarten after arriving early for the presentation on Tuesday last week.
"We noticed parents taking children into the centre," Mr Morris said.
There was a steering issue with the bus so his wife got out to have a look underneath it.
"She was doing her best she could to fix it."
Mr Morris offered assistance but couldn't help so he walked towards the centre with his didgeridoo and bag to go to set up for the show.
He has been performing for children on the Coast for the past 15 years, doing shows about cultural awareness and disability awareness as well as adult motivational speaking.
Those shows included numerous prior performances at Buderim Community Kindergarten.
Mr Morris took his bag and didgeridoo towards the kindergarten doors but when he got there he realised they were locked and no one was around.
Little did he know, but some of the parents inside the building had deemed the vehicle and his actions suspicious and called police.
He later learned there were reports a bomb was being planted under the bus and his didgeridoo had been mistaken for a gun.
The centre was in lock down.
"I just thought they might have gone for a quick walk," he said.
He left his bag and didgeridoo at the door then went back to the bus.
"Then two policeman arrived with their hands on their guns and walked straight over towards the vehicle and said 'is that your vehicle? Get your hands up'," he said.
He said the officers appeared to be looking for a gunman.
"My wife came out and they made her (put) her hands up against the wall.
"It was very, very full on.
"They were on edge.
"It was a bit scary."
Mr Morris said the police asked them questions and checked their identification.
He said the officers went to speak with a kindergarten staff member he knew from previous performances.
He said she waved to him and said "hello Jason".
"She knows me really well," he said.
"Then she realised she was in the middle of an absolute kabungle of misinformation.
"She could not believe that I was involved because she knows me, she just didn't know my vehicle."
He had driven a Commodore for all of his previous appearances.
"It took us two or three days to even recover because if we did the wrong move, they could have shot us. That's how intense it was," he said.
He said the kindergarten cancelled the performance scheduled that day and another one they had booked for later in the week.
It took Mr and Mrs Morris a few hours to get the bus fixed, during which time no one approached them or went near them.
"To get a reaction like that, is terrible really."
He said he and his wife were hurt that they had been judged on their appearance.
"That's the message that I give - it doesn't matter what you look like, everyone's got feelings," he said
He spoke out in the hope that people wouldn't be scared of their bus.
"If you see Da Beast, we are here because we want to help people," he said.
He said the police were intimidating but they did their job.
"They thought they were looking for people who were going to bomb someone or a gunman and they reacted in that way," he said.
Mrs Morris, who manages her husband's shows, said she had not encountered that reaction before.
"Now knowing that's all it took we do sort of get a little bit worried where we park now in case somebody makes the same mistake," Mrs Morris said.
Mr Morris said he was disappointed the kindergarten's manager had not been in touch with him since the incident.
"All of this escalated because of these parents over-reacting and then, in the end, she still couldn't even say or they couldn't say 'oh I'm really sorry about that, that must have been horrifying'," he said.
"We left quite angry."
Maroochydore police officer-in-charge Gavin Marsh said police had received multiple calls providing various pieces of information in the lead up to the incident, including from the kindergarten.
Senior Sergeant Marsh said officers did not draw their guns during the incident.
"Police did treat this as a high risk situation and were aware of their safety and the safety of the surrounding area upon arrival," Snr Sgt Marsh said.
"Officers responding to this situation followed their operational training and were prepared to respond if required."
He said police had to attend to high risk situations with limited information in most cases.
"They must take action considering the safety of themselves and the community.
"Immediate, clear and direct communication is essential when dealing with this type of situation."
He said police ultimately wanted to resolve any situation safely.
"While we can review this now from safety - when attending to and dealing with what was potentially a highly dangerous situation for both police and members of the public we need to be considering incidents occurring in recent times."
The kindergarten was contacted but management declined to comment.